Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

#BringBackOurGirls - anger and a sense of déjà vu

Read more

FOCUS

Italy helps integrate asylum seekers through training

Read more

FOCUS

'It's a jungle': Living on the street in the City of Light

Read more

THE DEBATE

Boko Haram Kidnappings: Can Nigerian schoolgirls be protected?

Read more

PEOPLE & PROFIT

Brand Trump: Has the US president damaged his company's reputation?

Read more

ENCORE!

Oscars sneak peek: 'Call Me By Your Name', 'I, Tonya' and 'Darkest Hour'

Read more

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

Are the French rude, or is it a big misunderstanding?

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Gun control in the US: A glimmer of compromise?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Opposition activist Evan Mawarire: Zimbabweans hope they can 'reset our future'

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2012-01-27

Egypt’s Salafist surge

In a matter of months, Egypt’s ultra-conservative Salafists have beaten a path from marginalised religious sect to major political force. But what do we know about them, aside from their heavily religious roots? France 24’s Chris Moore and Noreddine Bezziou travelled to Egypt to find out.

We meet the president of the Salafist Al Nour party as he leads prayers at a mosque in Alexandria. “Before the revolution prayers were on more general subjects…now we are freer and we can be more frank,” Emad Abdul Ghafour tells us.

Like fellow members, he’s brimming with confidence. They’ve just scored 24% of the vote in Egypt’s landmark elections, making them the second biggest bloc in parliament. Not bad for a political party founded just nine months ago.

Hosni Mubarak’s departure in February 2011 has seen Egypt’s Salafists emerge from the shadows. Before, they operated in the half-light, in little mosques like these, the former leader’s security services – wary of Islamists – never far away.

Now, they can openly advocate their agenda. Their ideal society is that of the first Muslims, one based on a strict adherence to the Koran and Sharia law.

What is striking among the party’s leaders and supporters is the belief that this model will soon become reality. They’re buoyed by election results which have seen Egyptians vote overwhelmingly for Islam – the Salafists coming in second only to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Above the Salafists’ political wing is a religious council which gives the green light to policy. In a mosque further along the road we meet one of its members, Ahmed Farid. “Believing in total freedom, that individuals can do what they want as long as they don’t hurt others as they put it…that doesn’t work in our religion…because we are the servants of God and servants obey their masters,” he tells us.

Below the political wing exists a long-standing network of sympathisers whose means are growing. In the city of Faiyoum, we meet Abu Muslim. At 16, he became Egypt’s youngest Islamist prisoner, and spent 14 years in Mubarak’s notorious jail system before being released in 2006. “The more you’re tortured for your beliefs…the deeper those beliefs become,” he says.

Now, Abu Muslim has founded a centre with like-minded individuals. Their goal is to make ancient religious rules compatible with modern life and business.

With the generals who replaced Mubarak promising to hand power to a civilian government, Egyptians are about to learn how far and how fast the Islamists will go in applying Sharia law - and to discover the level of sway the Salafists hold.

By Noreddine BEZZIOU , Christopher MOORE

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2018-02-16 Africa

Video: Girls in Malawi victims of 'sexual cleansing' ritual

In the remote southern regions of Malawi, a violent tradition is practised on young women. Girls who reach puberty are forced to have sex with a "hyena", a man chosen by their...

Read more

2018-02-09 China

Video: The victims of China’s forced disappearances

In China, the authorities go to great lengths to control civil society, even resorting to forced disappearances. Since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2013, political...

Read more

2018-02-02 Europe

Video: Crossing the Alps with Guinean migrants on a perilous journey

Since last summer, more migrants have been trying to cross the frozen plains of the Col de l'Échelle mountain pass in the Alps in a bid to reach France from Italy. In 2016 only a...

Read more

2018-01-26 France

Video: French Guiana battles with migrant influx, drug trafficking

In Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, French Guiana's second-largest city, one in three residents is foreign and often there illegally. To reach this South American region of overseas...

Read more

2018-01-19 Iraq

Exclusive: On the frontline with Shiite militias in Iraq

In December 2017, the Iraqi government announced with great fanfare the "official end of the war against the Islamic State group". The announcement marked the end of three years...

Read more